Saturday, March 01, 2008

MassMoCA director and Guggenheim?

Thursday Bloomberg News reported speculation that MassMoCA director Joseph Thompson is among the "likely candidates" to replace outgoing Guggenheim director Thomas Krens. So I checked with MassMoCA.

“Joe's not a candidate,” MassMoCA spokesperson Katherine Myers says.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Ana Maria Pacheco

From my review of Ana Maria Pacheco’s sculptural installation “Dark Night of the Soul” at Framingham’s Danforth Museum:
In the darkness stands a crowd of agitated people. When you walk between them, at their center you find a man, naked except for a black bag over his head. He would easily be the tallest in the room if he stood up. But he is kneeling, with his hands pulled behind him and tied to a post. And he is shot full of arrows.

So it goes in Ana Maria Pacheco's haunting sculptural installation "Dark Night of the Soul" at the Danforth Museum. Though completed in 1999 and inspired by the figure of St. Sebastian, this wood passion play viscerally conjures up the specter of American torture committed in the name of the "war on terror," from Abu Ghraib to CIA waterboarding. Other artists have incisively addressed this subject; Jenny Holzer's screenprints of government documents currently at Mass MoCA and in Massachusetts College of Art and Design's "War Stories" exhibit come to mind. But few make you feel so caught up in the middle of it.
Read the rest here.

“Ana Maria Pacheco: Dark Night of the Soul,” Danforth Museum, 123 Union Ave., Framingham, Nov. 9, 2007, to May 18, 2008.

Pictured: Details of Ana Maria Pacheco’s “Dark Night of the Soul.” Photos copyright The National Gallery, London.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Louis I. Kahn at Cape Ann

Cape Ann, Massachusetts, is the subject of a pair of Depression-era travel studies by the famed, late Philadelphia architect Louis I. Kahn that New York’s Lori Bookstein Fine Art is presenting at the Works on Paper fair in New York this weekend.

A watercolor said to depict Cape Ann seems (in reproduction) to depict a few houses or shacks along a road that winds through sandy hills. Its loose, open composition brings to mind John Marin’s work. A charcoal drawing depicts a shadowy elm-lined Gloucester street.

Both works date to the mid 1930s, putting Kahn among the long line of American modernists who vacationed or summered in Gloucester and Rockport during the 1930s and ‘40s, including Stuart Davis, Marsden Hartley, Adolph Gottlieb, Aaron Siskind, Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko.

“Louis I. Kahn: Architect as Artist,” Lori Bookstein Fine Art booth at Works on Paper fair, Feb. 29 to March 3, 2008.

Related: The New York Sun has an article about the Bookstein exhibition of Kahn’s travel drawings here.

Pictured top to bottom: Louis I. Kahn, “Rolling Countryside, No. 2, Cape Ann, Massachusetts,” 1935, watercolor on paper, and “Street of the Elms, No. 1, Gloucester, Cape Ann, Massachusetts,” 1934-35, charcoal on paper. Courtesy of Lori Bookstein Fine Art, New York.

AICA awards series ends

Last night at the sixth annual New England AICA awards, director Francine Koslow Miller announced that this would be the group’s last local awards ceremony. Overnight I asked her about the reasons for the decision.

“It is an enormous task to put the whole thing together — there's no budget for anything,” she writes. “The only support we get is from the hosting museums. Also, this has become all that we do as AICA New England and we want to spend more time networking, having fun and getting new writers in AICA.”

Understandable. But, as I wrote last night, the project will be missed.

New sidebar features

The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research has added two new features to the sidebar at right to better serve our readers. “Check It Out” highlights notable exhibitions and events. And “Data Processing” collects riveting art news, particularly reports about New England stuff.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Arts sweep 2008 AICA awards

The New England chapter of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) announced its awards for the 2006-’07 season during a ceremony at Brandeis University tonight. The group (of which I’m not a member) has issued awards for the past six years under the leadership of director Francine Koslow Miller, but she said this would be the group’s last local awards ceremony. That’s sad news. The awards ceremony ain’t perfect (what is?) but it’s one of the few occasions when the greater Boston arts community gets together and celebrates the good things we do around here.

Best historic monographic museum show
“Edwin Dickinson in Provincetown: 1912-1937,” Provincetown Art Association and Museum, curator: Mary Abell.

Best historical group museum show
First place: “Donatello to Giambologna: Italian Renaissance Sculpture,” Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, curator: Marietta Cambareri.
Second place: “Dissent!” Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, curator: Susan Dackerman.

Best contemporary monographic museum show
“Louise Bourgeois: The Woven Child (in context,” Worcester Art Museum, curator: Susan Stoops.

Best thematic museum show
First place: “Sensorium (I and II),” MIT List Visual Arts Center, curators: Bill Arning, Jane Farver, Yuko Hasegawa and Marjory Jacobson.
Second place: “Super Vision,” ICA Boston, curator: Nicholas Baume.

Best show in a university or college gallery:
First place: “Electric Wasteland: Urban Art from L.A.,” Montserrat College of Art, curator: Leonie Bradbury.
Second place: “Picture Show,” Boston University’s Photographic Resource Center as part of the Boston Cyberarts Festival, curator: Leslie K. Brown.

Best monographic show in a commercial gallery
First place tie: “Tabitha Vevers: Distant Shores,” Pepper Gallery; “Jenny Holzer: Archive,” Barbara Krakow Gallery.
Second place tie: “Neeta Madahar and Rona Pondick: Unnatural,” Howard Yezerski Gallery; “Eisbergfreistadt,” Kahn/Selesnick, Pepper Gallery.

Best group show in a commercial gallery
First place: “Regional Highlights: Miles Huston, Kate Levant and Jacques Louis Vidal,” LaMontagne Gallery, curator: Justin Lieberman.
Second place: “It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know,” Samson Projects, curator: Camilo Alvarez.

Best show in a public space
First place: “Art on the Harbor Islands,” ICA Boston, curator: Carole Anne Meehan.
Second place: “It Takes 154,000 Breaths to Evacuate Boston,” iKatun, project director: Kanarinka (Catherine D’Ignazio).

Best show in a nonprofit space
First place: “Laura Evans: Seeing Red,” Boston Sculptors Gallery.
Second place: “Encounters,” Boston Center for the Arts’ Mills Gallery as part of the Boston Cyberarts Festival, curator: Femke Lutgerink.

Best architecture or design show
First place: “Beyond the Harvard Box,” Harvard Graduate School of Design, curator: Michael Meredith.
Second place: “Classified Documents: The Social Museum of Harvard University, 1903-1931,” Arthur M. Sackler Museum, curators: Deborah Martin Kao and Michelle Lamuniere.

Best exhibition of time-based art
First place “Balance and Power: Performance and Surveillance in Video Art,” Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, curator: Michael Rush.
Second place: “Brian Knep: Aging,” Judi Rotenberg Gallery as part of the Boston Cyberarts Festival.

AICA distinguished service awards
Dr. Katherine (Kay) Sloan, president, Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
Jeff Keogh, director of public art, Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

Winners were selected by AICA New England members Francine Miller (director), Bill Arning, Debra Balken, Susan Boulanger, Christopher Busa, Charles Giuliano, Jennifer Gross, Christian Holland, Barbara O’Brien, Deborah Rothschild, Michael Rush and Mary S. Sherman.


New England creative economy > US average

But declining as a percentage of local state economies

More people were employed in the creative economy in New England than the national average as of 2002, according to a November 2007 report “The Creative Economy: A New Definition” by the Boston nonprofit advocacy group the New England Foundation for the Arts. But while the national number of creative economy workers compared to total employment grew from 3.47 percent in 1997 to 3.52 percent in 2002, the percentage in New England states declined from 4.15 percent to 3.97 percent.

In 1997, 4.21 percent of Massachusetts workers were employed by the creative economy compared to 4.06 percent in 2002, though the total number of residents employed in the creative economy grew from 130,981 to 132,001. In Rhode Island during the same span, the percentage declined from 6.73 percent to 5.32 percent, and the actual number of creative economy workers declined by nearly 5,000 to 25,453.

“This only makes it more imperative to identify the strengths of the region and build upon them,” the report says. “Cultural enterprise and workforce employment is not only a community asset for the high quality of life it provides, but because steady, lifetime work, is what a sustainable, balanced community needs.”

Based on 2000 U.S. census data, the report says, Massachusetts tops the nation for the number of architects as a percentage of the total workers. It has the second highest percentage of designers, the fourth highest percentage of writers, and fourth highest percentage of “all artistic occupations.” Rhode Island has the highest percentage of photographers and the fifth highest percentage of designers.

“The Creative Economy: A New Definition” also addresses just what the term “creative economy” encompasses, arguing that defining just what it means is key to reliable, consistent analysis of the sector. “Our definition of the creative economy is represented by the ‘cultural core,’” the report says. “It includes occupations and industries that focus on the production and distribution of cultural goods, services and intellectual property. Excluded are products or services that are the result of non-culturally based innovation or technology.”

See the New England Foundation for the Arts’s previous reports here.

“Failure Support Group" is Friday

Platform 2 offers a “Failure Support Group” at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 29, at the Democracy Center, 45 Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge. Cookies and bad coffee will be served. These are the same smart folks – iKatun, Andi Sutton and Jane D. Marsching – who have looked at “art and social engagement” by organizing intriguing public discussions of the “race, class, geography and art” and theme of the “commons” last year.

This time around the subject is failure. Some 20 people are expected to give brief presentations about their failures, followed by a group discussion. The organizers write:
Art projects fail a lot, particularly those that are participatory, public and/or social. They fail for different reasons and cause myriad revelations. Nevertheless, the structures that we use to talk about these works and contexts where they are presented often don't leave room for discussing the failures plainly and objectively.

We're interested in failure – in its relationship to creative production, artistic rhetoric and public presentation. So interested, in fact, that we want to share ours and hear about yours.

We invite you to join us for a Failure Support Group, an evening survey of failed processes and failed projects (yours and ours). Is there, actually, a recipe for failure? Are certain methodologies more prone to failure than others? How? What is at stake in acknowledging failure – in one's process, one's community, or one's career?
The fundamental nature of artists, of all creative types, is swings between grand confidence and deep doubt. Questions about whether what you’re doing is worthwhile, and if worthwhile any good, creep in from yourself, the people you know, your community. The grand confidence allows creative types to keep stumbling on ahead despite all this doubt.

The idea of “failure” zeros in on this. It also addresses the idea that we want artists to take risks, and with risk-taking there will be failures. As a critic, I wonder how do we take this into account? Can exhibitions and performances be experiments, and judged as such? Or should everything be in fine working order? How do we support good art as well as good risk-taking?

“Failure Support Group” Democracy Center, 45 Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge, 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 29, 2008.